Small business, BIG VOICE (Catalyst Magazine / PA Chamber of Business and Industry - Spring 2014)
In 1939, machinist Joseph Vodvarka started a new business in his house in McKees Rocks, PA using a small coiling machine to make garter springs by hand. Over time, his operation relocated to a small shop that allowed for the production of more of those springs. Seventy-five years later, that business is still a fixture in its community. Ace Wire Spring & Form offers a wide variety of custom precision springs, and it has become an industry leader in the manufacturing of Compression Springs, Extension Springs, Torsion Springs, and Wire Form.
The company is owned and operated by Vodvarka’s daughter, Linda, and her husband Rich Froehlich; their son Ritchy is General Manager. The couple credits their family-run business’s success with maintaining the same commitment to providing the same quality custom products and services that Linda’s father did so many decades ago.
Ace’s 49 employees now work out of a 55,000 square foot facility in McKees Rocks that was built during a company expansion in 1986. They boast a first-class team of on-site engineers who develop solutions for a wide variety of applications. Their top priority is to ensure that the customers receive personalized service and assistance and a quality final product suited to meet their needs. All told, the veteran craftsmen at the company have a combined 100 years of industry experience and are trained in the latest and most advanced forms of mechanical and CNC wire forming machines and techniques.
When asked if the company plans to remain in Pennsylvania, Ace’s Marketing Manager John Higgins answers “yes,” citing state programs that help their small business with training and exportation and services that offer manufacturing consultants as major benefits to being headquartered in the Keystone state. However, Higgins also lists a share of challenges, including compliance with the federal health care law. “Between being a small business, and working in a fragile economy, an additional expense incurred due to this law is especially challenging right now,” Higgins says. He adds that matching the price of lower-quality, cheaper products that are made overseas poses another obstacle.
Despite these hurdles, the company continues to thrive based on its commitment to meeting the needs of its customers and delivering a quality product. In a press release celebrating its 75th Anniversary, the customers are the ones who are recognized for helping the business stay in its community for all these years. “Ace Wire Spring & Form is the one who thanks the customers for making it possible…to be celebrating being in business for seventy-five years,” the release states.